Effects of cartilage impact with and without fracture on chondrocyte viability and the release of inflammatory markers

Josef A. Stolberg-Stolberg, Bridgette D. Furman, N. William Garrigues, Jaewoo Lee, David S. Pisetsky, Nancy A. Stearns, Louis E. Defrate, Farshid Guilak, Steven A. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Post-traumatic arthritis (PTA) frequently develops after intra-articular fracture of weight bearing joints. Loss of cartilage viability and post-injury inflammation have both been implicated as possible contributing factors to PTA progression. To further investigate chondrocyte response to impact and fracture, we developed a blunt impact model applying 70%, 80%, or 90% surface-to-surface compressive strain with or without induction of an articular fracture in a cartilage explant model. Following mechanical loading, chondrocyte viability, and apoptosis were assessed. Culture media were evaluated for the release of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and immunostimulatory activity via nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activity in Toll-like receptor (TLR) -expressing Ramos-Blue reporter cells. High compressive strains, with or without articular fracture, resulted in significantly reduced chondrocyte viability. Blunt impact at 70% strain induced a loss in viability over time through a combination of apoptosis and necrosis, whereas blunt impact above 80% strain caused predominantly necrosis. In the fracture model, a high level of primarily necrotic chondrocyte death occurred along the fracture edges. At sites away from the fracture, viability was not significantly different than controls. Interestingly, both dsDNA release and NF-κB activity in Ramos-Blue cells increased with blunt impact, but was only significantly increased in the media from fractured cores. This study indicates that the mechanism of trauma determines the type of chondrocyte death and the potential for post-injury inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1283-1292
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • apoptosis
  • chondrocyte viability
  • inflammation
  • intra-articular fracture
  • post-traumatic arthritis


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